More states are considering "shoot first" laws, while a majority of states have varying degrees of laws that allow self-defense.Continue reading
As state lawmakers in Texas and North Carolina move towards enacting tough new limits on abortions, Sunlight decided to use some of our data tools to see how far the trend is spreading nationwide. To do so, we lifted key phrases from four of the most restrictive abortion bills that have either been enacted or considered recently and ran those terms through our Open States database, which surveys activity in all 50 state legislatures.
Restrictive abortion bills on the move in 2013
This map distinguishes five levels of legislative web and broadcasting comprehension on a sliding scale from “Best” (including all recommended elements: video formatting of floor proceedings and committee hearings, archived, and broadcasted via a variety of mediums) to “Worst” (missing several of these recommended elements). For more info (or to watch!) see the NCSL's original roundup here.
Open legislative data is integral to a functioning legible participatory democracy. The legislative data canopy covers everything from information about who represents you to the nuts and bolts of the legislative process to final letter of the law, with each element carrying its own series of challenges and considerations when it comes to public access. Timely and archived legislative process data (i.e. bills, amendments, committee meetings, votes, and contextual information, such as: research reports, legislative journals and lobbying information) are crucial to supporting citizen participation and informed voting. Video documentation of the legislative process represents the barebones of open and accountable legislative process data -- passive recordings of events as they happen for prosperity and public inclusion -- and yet this information is still not comprehensively available in most U.S. states.Continue reading
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.
Adam Green is the CTO of UniteBlue.com -- a social network for progressives based on Twitter. UniteBlue connects and organizes political activists on a national and state level. You can reach. Adam at email@example.com.
One of the great challenges for political activism in each of the 50 state legislatures is providing timely information on bills as they move through the legislative process. The data provided by the Sunlight Foundation Open States API is comprehensive, but combing through it to find the limited number of bills that activists have the time to focus on can be overwhelming. I have found over 88,000 bills in the current session alone. We are now developing an early warning system at UniteBlue.com that can assist our volunteers in filtering this information flow down to a manageable level.
While the entire process will take months to complete, in this guest post I’d like to propose a triage model that can be used as a first step. Triage is the medical model used in hospital emergency rooms and during disaster responses. A high flow of patients is screened using certain “signatures” to determine which ones need to be seen first, such as blocked airways or dangerous vital signs. The process of triaging the high flow of bills coming from the Sunlight data will follow a similar model.Continue reading
As the Senate opens debate on gun control after a last-minute bipartisan deal, a review of legislation now before state lawmakers gives a striking evidence of how difficult it will be to enact restrictions on firearms into law, even given the political momentum such measures have received following the December shooting tragedy that left 26 people -- most of them young children -- dead at the Sandy Hook elementary school at Newtown, Conn.
A review of nearly 1,500 firearms-related bills introduced in the 50 state legislatures since the beginning of the year by Sunlight reveals that the post-Newtown push for stronger ...Continue reading
A few Sunlighters took off for the west coast last week to attend PyCon, the largest annual gathering for the... View ArticleContinue reading
Today we’re making available our Transparency Report Card, a byproduct of the work we did in producing Open States. ... View ArticleContinue reading
After more than four years of work from volunteers and a full-time team here at Sunlight we're immensely proud to launch the full Open States site with searchable legislative data for all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.Continue reading
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary has brought gun policy back to the forefront of our national conversation. As a nonpartisan, nonprofit Sunlight takes no stance on the issue, but we have put together a collection of resources looking at the legislation, policy and influence around gun rights and gun control, plus the groups and lawmakers involved. The Gun Lobby Sunlight Foundation Senior Fellow Lee Drutman reviews the political influence of the National Rifle Association and the leading gun control group, the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence. Read his full analysis in this blog post. Lee notes that when it comes to the debate on gun policy, Congress is pretty much only hearing from one side. The NRA spends 66 times what the Brady Campaign spends on lobbying, and 4,143 times what the Brady Campaign spends on campaign contributions. Since 2011, the NRA spent at least $24.28 million: $16.83 million through its political action committee, plus $7.45 million through its affiliated Institute for Legislative Action. According to Influence Explorer records, the Brady Campaign spent $5,800 this election cycle and reported $60,000 in lobbying costs.Continue reading